Laced with love, family dramas, recipes, and the pangs of growing up, Lerman’s memoir is a satisfying treat.

MY FAT DAD

A MEMOIR OF FOOD, LOVE, AND FAMILY, WITH RECIPES

Nutrition expert and New York Times Well Blog contributor Lerman pens an intimate memoir about the intersections of intense family relationships and food, dieting, and healthy eating.

As a child, the author’s relationships with her overweight father and distant mother were difficult. Eventually, she realized that her father’s ravenous appetite—he often consumed 8,000 calories per day—was a disease he couldn’t control. Lerman’s mother, a frustrated actress, had no desire to be saddled with housewifely tasks. The author’s grandmother Beauty, however, showered her with love and attention and lots of home-cooked meals. “In her arms,” writes Lerman, “I was never hungry for food, love, or affection. She was my mentor and my savior—saving my life, spoonful by spoonful.” The author tracks her emotional and culinary life as the family moved from Chicago to New York as well as the transition in her relationship with her father when her younger sister’s burgeoning acting career took off. Lerman also chronicles her parents’ divorce, her teenage years, and her father’s bout with cancer. Always entranced by health-food stores, the author began developing a healthy eating regime for her father, who, always trying one extreme diet after another, was fighting for his health. He eliminated dairy, meat, alcohol, and caffeine, and he began making “anti-cancer soup with shiitake, portabella and maitake mushrooms.” He also stocked up on fresh vegetables, blue-green algae, and fermented foods. Throughout the book, Lerman links food to physical and emotional well-being—e.g., a meal of white fish and steamed leeks topped with lemon slices was “calming and almost euphoric.” During an encounter with a guest who offered Lerman a piece of macrobiotic apple pie while espousing a vegetarian lifestyle, the author’s mind opened up to new ways of living and eating, and she relates them smoothly to readers.

Laced with love, family dramas, recipes, and the pangs of growing up, Lerman’s memoir is a satisfying treat.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-425-27223-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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